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Robert Burns Letter

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: KM
Date: Dec 1996

Biographical History

Robert Burns (1759-1796) was a Scottish poet and a lyricist. He is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland, and as a seminal member of the Romantic movement.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Robert Burns Letter consists of an original handwritten draft of a love letter, evidently written for a local farmer (identified only as "Johnston") and addressed to a "Miss Gordon." The second page of the letter bears an annotation by Burns' eldest son attributing the handwriting to his father. The letter is tipped to a mounting sheet and attached to another letter of W. Smith, a former owner of the manuscript. The letter reads in part:

...I intend very soon doing myself the honor of waiting on you, persuaded that however little Miss Gordon may be disposed to attend to the suit of a lover as unworthy of her as I am, she is...still too good to despise an honest man, whose only fault, as to her, is loving her too much for his own peace.

The full text of the letter appears on pp. 186-7 of volume II of J. De Lancey Ferguson's The Letters of Robert Burns (Clarendon Press: 1931), supplied with the date of July 1793 by the editor.

Arrangement of the Collection

Single item.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Burns, Robert, 1759-1796.


Farmers -- Scotland -- 18th century.
Poets, Scottish.

Genres and Forms

Love letters.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Robert Burns Letter,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Sol Feinstone.

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